Walking and jogging are great cardiovascular exercises. These activities, along with biking and swimming, are beneficial to exercise your heart and manage your weight. However, when it comes to preventing and managing joint pain (knee arthritis), you must strengthen the muscles in your legs by doing resistance strength training. This can best be achieved by knowing which strengthening exercises work best for you without causing pain. In addition, walking or any impact exercises can even be harmful if you are carrying extra weight on your legs and have osteoarthritis of the knee.
WHY WALKING CAN BE HARMFUL:
1. The aging process, as well as osteoarthritis of the knee, weakens your muscles. As a result, your leg muscles may not be strong enough to carry your weight to do extra walking throughout the day.
2. The impact from walking will cause inflammation and pain if the muscles are not strong enough to protect your knees. This impact can accelerate the degeneration of your knee.
1. Being “busy” with daily activities is not building the type of strength you need in your leg.
2. Walking, swimming, biking, or even jogging is not building the type of strength you need to protect your degenerating knees.
3. Doing an impact workout routine or using a personal trainer may be worsening your problem by doing harmful exercises.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
1. Set aside 10 – 15 minutes once or twice a day, five days a week to do resistant strength training exercises.
2. Your muscles, ligaments and tendons need to be conditioned by doing the most efficient and safest resistant strength training.
3. Having the guidance of a physical therapist get you started is your safest and most efficient way to begin. You need a professional physical therapy team experienced in dealing with degenerative knees. They will teach you the appropriate home program. The expert staff at Blanda Orthopedics can help you get started.
4. You need to do low impact exercises to help stop the inflammation in your knees. This will also help with weight management, when combined with a healthy anti-inflammatory diet.
LOW IMPACT EXERCISES (from least stressful to most)
1. Seated Zumba
2. Exercise bike
4. Elliptical or similar machines
5. Walking on a padded treadmill or soft surface with jogging shoes. This may be too stressful initially.
*To get a beneficial aerobic workout your heart rate must be in your target zone for 20 – 30 minutes. For example, your heart rate needs to be around 22 beats for 10 seconds.
Stronger legs can decrease your knee problems as well as allow you to remain more active. You must do a leg strengthening program four or five times a week. Most people don’t know how to do this without causing their knees to “flare up”. Going to the gym or working with a personal trainer may be dangerous to your knees. A professional physical therapist experienced in knee problems is your best place to start. They will help you design a program that you can continue on your own.
Joseph Blanda, MD